14. Not sharing
So one afternoon in the office you feel a little peckish hence you go out and buy yourself some potato chips to snack on. You are then busy enjoying the snacks all by yourself in the office and before you know it all your colleagues are looking at you frowning or staring at your potato chips hoping to have a nibble too. This is because in Korea it is a ‘sharing’ culture. It is a special concept in which Koreans call ‘jeong’ and it is a special kind of love between the people and society. If you don’t share you will be seen as a little greedy and have little or no ‘jeong’. To find out more about this special kind of ‘love’ in Korea check out this special article and video on ‘jeong’.
15. Talking loudly on the bus or subway
Any loud noise anywhere can be a little disturbing, and what more disturbing noise can you get than people talking loudly on public transport? You may think people will just try and ignore it, but Koreans will not hesitate and tell you to actually ‘be quiet’, especially the tired ones who are trying to catch up on sleep on the way to work. In some extreme cases it is possible to get scolded even in a restaurant for speaking too loudly. It is not to say you should only whisper when talking to your friends. Just watch out for the volume you’re making when you are with your friends….or experience the wrath of a tired ahjumma or ahjussi 😉
16. Turning up to someone’s apartment empty handed
Koreans really like their privacy so it is not common for people to invite people over to their homes as often as some people do in other parts of the world. So if a Korean family invites you over to their apartment for the first time, that’s a pretty big deal and it’s awesome for them to do so. And don’t you want to be awesome back? Giving a gift shows that you have manners in Korea and it also says “thanks for inviting me over” or “sorry for intruding your private space T_T”. No clue as to what gifts to get for Korean families? Find out more here!
17. Not paying for round 2
Usually when you eat dinner with an older person he or she will generally buy you the whole meal. Why? It’s just a Korean custom. Your older friend might be working so they will have their own money to treat you. In order to return that kind gesture you can either pay for the next meal or pay for round 2! Round 2 can vary from getting some dessert or to just simply going to a café for some coffee. What looks really bad is when your friend pays for the dinner and you still try to calculate to split the bill for round 2!
To know more about how ‘rounds’ work click here!
18. Clothing which expose your shoulders (girls only)
Although society is slowly changing in Korea, it still remains quite a conservative country. Hence what you wear can give off certain impressions of yourself. In Korean society girls who wear clothing which expose their shoulder blades are considered too ‘sexual’ or ‘too revealing, more so than girls who wear super short mini-skirts. However as mentioned before, the society is changing and you can see women today wearing clothes which show a little bit of shoulder, but the majority today still covers them up….but super mini-skirts and hot pants are still completely acceptable. =/
19. Showing the bottom of your shoe or foot
Some of you might already think “when and why on Earth would I show someone the bottom of my foot?!” Usually guys like to cross their legs the way in which one foot rests on the other knee. This then shows the bottom of your shoe! Especially in a working environment or when talking to the elders, showing the bottom of your shoe is a sign of disrespect! Ensure to keep both legs on the ground or you can cross your legs in a way that doesn’t show the bottom of your shoe. Let’s just hope it doesn’t hurt too much when doing that (if you know what I mean guys 😉 )
20. Leaving tips
One of my favourite things about Korea is that there is no need nor are you expected to give tips for any services. With the exception of some tourist hotels, 10% service charge may be already added to your bill. You are not expected to tip in taxis too however it is possible to tell the driver to keep the change (usually anything less than 1000 won). Be careful however as sometimes tipping can be considered an insult, so it’s best not tip overall than risking offense to someone right? 😉
Are there any rules or traditional customs that foreigners should be aware of in your country? Let us know by commenting below ^^